On Writing – Tone Experiments

I’ve found my line. From now on this come first- this is my immediate duty. Without this, I am nothing.

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

There are no pages I write, edit, rewrite, edit, trash and rewrite from scratch more than the first ten of any project. In those first ten pages I’m doing a specific mix of free range exploration to see what characters appear from the ether, what little nuggets reveal themselves and also focused experimentation with a specific voice and pacing.

I did it with Beneath the Wood extensively: I needed to find the right narrative tone (I even experimented with first person narrative perspective at one point), the right amount of narrative insight/omniscience and focus, the right amount of narrative insight that would posit itself over my characters’ own voices. The same experimentation too place extensively with Five Talents before I settled on the odd mix of meta narrative voice with third person focused episodic pacing.

Unicorns & Satellites is in that phase right now. I’ve written four different cracks at opening scenes already- each a completely different scene, each with slight turns on the protagonist and how I presented him.

Tonight I wrote two pages that I feel good about. More than good, it’s not only the right tone I was trying to negotiate my way toward in prior drafts, but I had a revelation that opened it up. In short, I split my protagonist and his “threads” into a pair of protagonists. The story will now follow roommates BG and Colin en route to their “best friend’s” wedding.

I sent the test pages to a trio of friends who are reliable readers and I’ve described it to all of them as “halfway between Beneath the Wood and Five Talents in tone.” If I keep that up throughout the story, then I think I’ve found my line.

Back to the grind, we move forward.

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